A couple of years ago you couldn’t go anywhere without adverts asking you “Dare you see Saw?” I was one of the many who dared and now, after watching the third film, I’ve finally figured out what all the hype was about.
For those who still haven’t gotten round to it, the Saw films are horror-thrillers that focus on the activities of the “Jigsaw” serial killer, who sets his victims in traps where they have to choose between pain and disfigurement, or dying. The first film sees two men chained up inside an abandoned public toilet in america. Their choice is to cut off one of their own feet and escape, or die within a set time limit when the door locks forever.
Although most of the film is shot in the restroom, a series of flashbacks introduce us to Jigsaw, his methods and the reason these two men have been chosen by him. Unfortunately for a thriller, it’s not a very interesting story at all. The film tries to set itself apart and mix the thriller and horror genres by using gross out techniques against the viewer, resulting in a film that may make you squirm uncomfortably, but will never scare you. Even the much talked about shock ending will have most people saying they saw it coming. Despite being sold as a thinking man’s slasher, Saw is actually a pretty good no-brainer film, perfect to waste away a dark and stormy night with friends.
Saw 2 breaks all movie rules by being better than the original. The story references the original heavily, especially the final twist which you wont see coming this time. Yes, it follows the genre rules for sequels so expect more gore (again provided by gross out moments) and more victims. This time it’s an entire house full of traps and several people who have a set time to escape. Each trap is tailored to one of the individuals in the house and makes them face their past. Each character has one thing in common, they were all falsely arrested by one bad cop. What they don’t know is that this cop is out to rescue them all, especially his son who’s trapped in the house with them. Again the story is heavily loaded with flashbacks but it’s a more mature story and is presented as such.
This time around we finally get to meet Jigsaw and get some view of his motivations, as he toys with the cops dealing with his case. These scenes are likely to have most viewers more excitable than the predicament in the house, as some stellar performances are turned in by the killer and the cop searching for his son. Despite it’s two dimensional beginnings, the original movie is actually made a better experience once you’ve watched the sequel. Each time the original movie is referenced we learn more about the mythology of Saw.
Saw 3 continues this by starting at the exact point that Saw 2 ends. Again we learn more about previous protagonists. Again we see how their disappearances have affected the lives of their loved ones. Again we face needless gore.
Now that the scriptwriters are churning out decent storylines wrapped around the Saw universe, there’s no need for the films to distinguish themselves by throwing blood and guts at the viewer. Unfortunately, perhaps worried that it’ll be lost in the wave of straight to dvd bargain bin horror, Saw 3 lets you see more than most movies in either of the genres it straddles. It’s still doesn’t benefit the film and, in this case, actually makes it a little less believable as the effects aren’t quite up to standard.
As Saw 2 put a new spin on the original film, Saw 3 adds even more twists to both of it’s predecessors. On the whole, I can’t recommend any of these films to watch on their own. They’re too wrapped up in their own mythology to be good as stand alone movies. However, get all three and watch them in order and it all starts to make sense. This isn’t three movies, it’s one very long one with three distinct acts. Seen from this point of view, the Saw trilogy is a hell of a good movie. So ask yourself one little question, dare you see Saw?